Reposted from ypochris by shortfinals
Editor's Note: Excellent coverage about a rare WW2 type! -- shortfinals
Coming across an intact WW2 bomber while hiking through the jungle is a unique experience. Finding a large aircraft lying in a gulch on your own property is a sure way to inspire you to discover the history of that plane, and how it ended up still sitting there seventy years after it crashed.
Well, to be honest, I did realize that there was a plane on or near our property. Nick Agorastos, who works with the State Natural Area Reserves program, had shown me a picture which had piqued my interest. He had said the plane was located in Waikaloa gulch, the boundary between our property and State land to the west. So, as we hiked down the mountain on the east side of Waikaloa, trying to find a route to the top of the cliffs fronting the ocean, we were puzzled by the tour helicopters circling to the east of us on each pass. What could they be looking at, over in Punalulu gulch?
A little background may be helpful here. Some years before, I had gathered a group of family and friends to purchase the ahupua'a (a Hawaiian land division, essentially a pie slice of the mountain, running from the mountain top to the sea) of Laupahoehoe 2, on the remote northeast slope of Kohala mountain on the island of Hawai'i. Although the coastal sections of this land, below the 1600 foot high sea cliffs, were well known to us, the four square miles of land above the cliff was unexplored. Virtually impassable from east to west, due to innumerable gulches up to 800 feet deep, we were attempting to find a route from the top of the mountain that threaded its way between the gulches and reached the proper section of the clifftop - the part that was on our land. This was our third attempt to do so. Although on a map the distances appear small, in reality even with a well marked trail the trip from the bottom to the top of the land through the Kohala swamps is an exhausting ten hour hike, and these initial exploratory forays took five to seven days. So we had, at that time, a very poor understanding of the topography of the land, or what was hidden in these upper reaches. In all likelihood, we were the first people to pass through much of this terrain since bird catchers in ancient Hawaiian times.
So, imagine thrashing through this nearly impenetrable, untracked jungle and stumbling across this:
How did THAT wind up in the middle of the jungle? With the help of the Army Air Corps accident report and some contemporary newspaper articles generously provided by aviation historian David Trojan, follow me through the orange time warp and find out!